May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento boxes and accessories

With Father’s Day coming up, I thought I’d take a look at some guy-friendly bento boxes and related items available from the bento retail world. While there is nothing to prevent a guy from using a pink bunny bento box with cherry and flower-themed chopsticks if he so chooses, most men may prefer their bentos to be a bit more understated.

Modern and gender-neutral bento box

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This Concorde XL Bento Box set, available from CasaBento, fits the bill perfectly. It’s large, with a capacity of 900 ml, yet slim enough to fit comfortably inside a backpack or large-ish briefcase. It comes with a bento band and a bag too. The one pictured here is Sky Blue, and it’s also available in navy, grey, red and apple green. (Bonus: it’s on sale right now!)

Anti-bacterial bento box

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If the man in your life is the type that might leave his bento box sitting around for many hours before getting to it, the AG+ Men’s Ion Antibacterial Bento Box with Built-in Chopsticks from J-List may be worth considering. It’s coated with silver ions, which are supposed to have anti-microbial qualities. You should still follow some basic bento safety procedures, but a little insurance against spoilage can’t hurt. This is also a large bento box, with a 900 ml capacity. A pair of chopsticks that fit into the lid comes with this box. The resident Guy at Chez Just Bento favors a box very similar to this one.

Manly lunch jars

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Capacious, rugged lunch jars are associated with hungry construction workers in Japan, who bring them along to building sites if they can’t get to a konbini (see A Japanese Life of Bento). Lunch jars are great for people with very hearty appetites, or those who want their food to be kept hot or cold. The Zojirushi Mr. Bento is the best known lunch jar (link for non-US people), but Zojirushi’s main rival in the world of thermal/insulated bento containers in Japan, Thermos, has been introducing more lunch jars in the U.S. in recent years. The Thermos Nissan “All-In-One” Stainless Steel Lunch Tote has 4 compartments, a stainless steel spoon that fits inside an attached carrying case, a detachable strap and a huge 48 ounce (1400 ml) capacity. It keeps food hot for up to 12 hours and cold for up to 24 hours.

USB powered bento box warmer/cooler

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When I see this USB powered warmer/cooler case from Bento&co, I can’t help thinking that it would be a perfect gift for Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory - if he was into bentos. It’s an insulated soft case that keeps a heat-proof bento box warm or cool for several hours, rather like a mini refrigerator. Put a piping hot or chilled box in the case, carry it to work or school, plug the case into the USB port of your computer. It even has a very long cable, so that you can tuck the case away out of sight of prying or lunch-stealing hands.

A guy-friendly bento recipe book in English

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Easy Japanese Cooking: Bento Love by Kentaro Kobayashi, is basically a translation of his Japanese book ドーンと元気弁当—食べざかり、伸びざかりに - which translates very roughly as “Big bentos that fill you with energy - for big appetites and growing bodies”. It’s filled with filling, hearty bento recipes, mostly Japanese with some Western-inspired ones sprinkled in, for hearty appetites. Most are easy to make with limited access to Japanese ingredients, beyond the staples like soy sauce and miso and so on.

What are the “bento men” of Japan using?

I have talked before about the Japanese phenomenon of “bento danshi” or “bento men” - men who makes their own bento lunches and bring them to work or school. There are plenty of bento blogs authored by men, and online communities for them too. Most of these bento-making guys seem to stick to one or two plain bento boxes, usually of a traditional type that they might have used when they were growing up.This blogger for example, whose blog has the subheader “The Bento Life of a Single Guy In His 30s” uses 1 or 2 plain plastic containers or a single-level wooden bento box.

This well known ‘bento danshi’ blogger has a blog with the slightly confusing title of “The Bentos of a Married Partner-less Man” (既婚配偶者なしの弁当)- which, it turns out, just means he’s separated from his wife. He has wonderful bento-arranging skills, and uses three or four plain bento boxes, including a wooden one which looks a lot like the Kyo Bento Box. Mr. Married Partner-less (aka Yasuhiro Endo) has a very nice book out (in Japanese only) called 毎朝パパッとできる!野菜たっぷりお弁当レシピ (Bento recipes with lots of vegetables that you can make quickly every morning!).

I only know of one English-language bento blog that fits the ‘bento guy’ category, A Man’s Bento, which hasn’t been updated in a while. If you know of any others let me know!

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

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Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

These are really cool! I want to get the antibacterial one from J-list for my husband. However, considering how many tupperware containers have gone away to work, never to return home again, I'm not sure I want to drop the money on something I'll only see once or twice! Maybe I'll go for the one on sale =)

Oh...and thanks for showing me the link to share on facebook. I haven't seen one that looked like that before and I skipped right over it!

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

I really like the idea of the jug type ones, In winter i often bring left over stew or soups to work, in a small thermos and it doesnt hold very much.
The recipe book looks interesting, sometimes you just want something with more substance for lunch especially when its a cold miserable day :)

I might have to add both items to my shopping list.

I cant wait for your book to be released!

Becki

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

Is there a bento warmer (or similar product) that connects to the car cigarette lighter (like a cell phone charger)? It would help with meals during a 24hr shift.

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

Not that I know of...though, I do have a cigarette lighter adapter for charging an iPhone...and that's essentially a USB adapter. I wonder if the USB warmer would work with that... I think there are also coolers that plug into a cigarette lighter.

ETA: here is a cooler/warmer (mini-fridge) that may fit your needs!

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

Thanks. I've not seen anothing like that before. That will really give me more options to pack. Looking forward to trying it out!

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

HI: I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. As you know there isnt a lot of choice for us guys out there. And I would dearly love to have one of the high end laquered ones, but I've been coping with some of the more solid color plastic ones. Thanks again for this and all the recipe post!!

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

I got my boyfriend a somehow sweet box from Hakoya (with a small golden on the outer lid), but he's quite satisfied with it. I think it's just the right box (and I like it too), but someday I want to buy another, more manly bento box for him.

I'm really into rugged food jars because I don't have access to a microwave at uni, but here in Austria it's almost impossible to get a good one. Of course I could order one, but that's so expensive! Can you recommend any brands? My boyfriend is going to San Francisco in two weeks and I'd like him to buy me some bento-related stuff :)

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

Bear has the Ion anti-bacteria bento and won't change! When it broke I had to buy the exact same one!

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

I was lucky to find my guy's first bento box at HomeGoods for $5.00. The only problem was that it was really tupperware based, and didn't have a flat bottom, so packing it took extra effort. After reading this post and browsing the options, I got so excited at the prospect of a REAL bento box that I finally broke down and went to a local Asian market. I was very surprised to find a 900ml bento box for only $15! I was expecting from the prices from these sites (and JList) to have to spend at least $20+ if I wanted a box that looked okay and would hold enough food for him, but it turns out that shifting through the boxes for the one made out of plastic instead of metal was very worth it. I wish that there were more Man Options out here in the U.S., because even if men aren't packing bentos, it doesn't mean they don't need a bento box for their loving spouse/partner to pack! =D Thanks for your inspirational post!

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

Really cool! Due to work, I'm a big fan of the idea behind the USB powered bento box warmer/cooler.

Wooden Bento Boxes

Personally, I like pure wood bento boxes because they look so classic and unassuming. But boy the good ones are really expensive. Thanks for the links to bento sites created by men. It's interesting to note the differences between bento meals created by men and those created by women.

Re: Wooden Bento Boxes

Good wooden boxes are expensive, but they are really things to use and treasure for a lifetime (with proper care), as compared to plastic boxes. I only have a few wooden boxes in my collection but they are my favorites!

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

Another English-language bento guy blog (mostly just pictures captions):

http://baltimorebentoman.blogspot.com/ . Also not updated in a while.

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

thanks for that link TFL!

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

Not really a bento man blog, but I recently got the Danshi Gohan (Men's Meals) book for my bf after he expressed interest in it. He had never really cooked more than spaghetti or instant udon, and now we've made several meals from the book.
Here it is on Amazon, they don't show a picture of the cute cover with Kentaro and Taichi on it though.
http://tinyurl.com/29valbu

Here's a link about the book and tv show in the Japan Times.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20090710f4.html

I'm glad that male cooking and bento making is becoming somewhat of a trend here in Japan!

Re: May-June bento product highlights: "Bento Guy" bento ...

Hello Maki,
I am a male bento blogger living in the UK.
I have a relatively large collection of boxes and go between kyaraben and easy basic meals :)

My blog is www.ohbentouk.wordpress.com

I hope you can take some time to check it out :)

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